Only Five Things Wrong with SharePoint

Well, thats what I think the headline should have been. <sly grin>

I have spent this morning reading through the various contributions to what may become the SharePoint controversy of 2005, perhaps even all time. I say this because I suspect that it has already grown beyond this years “Site Customisation Supportability” debate, and perhaps, in just a few more days, it will even have taken over from the “Web Part Storm of 2004”….

In fact this latest controversy is so big that it has even attracted the attention of The Scobleizer, along with numerous other SharePoint Blogging luminaries. All of these have been handily collated here by Paul, who also happened to be about the first to “wade in” to the now treacherous water.

One notable post missing in this list is Ed Brill, who works over at IBM. Ed (who is most likely happy with the start to his week <grin>), has also been following comments out in the community. He has an interesting perspective that’s worth a read, the post closing with: “In the end, it seems like almost all of this is mostly hot air. There's a lot to be learned about perception across all these articles and blogs, though.”

Now, on to Mikes post. While I would love to provide a detailed response to many of the points raised in his now in/famous post, I’ve been well and truly beaten to the Microsoft punch by the likes of Maurice, who has put things far more eloquently and accurately than I ever could. From the community side of things, there have been a number of enthusiastic posts, which, in some way provides a comment on Mikes point #4 “Support for SharePoint is lacking” .

In an effort to avoid being left our of the controversy I would like to contribute the following to the discussion.

I would like to sympathise with Mike when it comes to having some frustrations with SharePoint. Like many out here in the community who have deployed the product on a large scale, there are things that I really needed it to do that it just didn’t, and worse, there are things that after getting my hands dirty just didn’t work the way I had previously expected them to (but that could be just me! <grin>). These types of issues are common to any “Enterprise Class” deployment (sorry Ed, even Lotus Notes! <grin>), and make no mistake, SharePoint in its latest incarnation is absolutely “Enterprise Class”.

Like Mike, at the end of a large scale deployment, I too like to sit down and work out a list of “x things wrong with x”. When I set about doing so I make sure I include three key elements::

1. That the points are very specific and concise. For example: “The initial download to the client on first access is too large”
2. Provide clear evidence as to why it is “wrong”. For example: “This is ‘wrong’ because it makes SharePoint difficult to deploy over low-bandwidth connections like branch networks”
3. Ideally, if you have one, provide a solution. For example: “This could be positively impacted by implementing compression”

Finally, the most important bit is that I review each point to make sure that I could stand behind each one if I was ever called on to present directly to the person in the product group (marketing or technical) responsible for it. In fact this became pretty important because it’s exactly what happened with one of my “x (not saying what the value of “x” was, <grin>) things wrong with SharePoint” lists. In many ways this is even more important out here in the blogosphere, because I suspect the community are going to be an even tougher audience than the product group.

So Mike, please post again.

Like the product group with my list, I for one would really like to have a blogosphere discussion with you about each of the points you make in more detail. The good news is that there are Microsoftee’s out here that can talk to each of your points directly. For example, I work over in the support organisation and would love to talk more about point #4, perhaps touching on some of the new support options, like “Rapid Response Engineers”, that are now available to SharePoint customers.

Like me, we all want to understand the various pain points you expressed, in fact more than that, we want to understand what it is we might be able to do with the next version to make those pain points go away!
Believe me, we at Microsoft will be more than happy to take any of your good ideas, put them in the next version of the product and then take full credit! <sly grin>

So, Mike, hopefully see you online again soon!

I enjoyed the reference to Team Manager (we still have a web site!), though I struggle a little with any connection to SharePoint <grin>. The closest I can think of is the integration that Windows SharePoint Services has with Microsoft Project Server, which in turn I think makes a comment on your point #3. That product is a great example of why WSS has become an operating system service, why it’s part of the fundamental Windows platform which is then available to other applications. where was I? Oh yes, Team manager.

In my eight years at Microsoft this product comes up in customer discussions at least once every six months or so, incredible given it was probably on the market for less time than MS Bob! (a product by the way whose features SharePoint certainly does NOT try and recreate. <grin>)